Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Follow Me

Preface: I have a virtual friend (meaning, I only know her online, not in real life) who's facilitating an online Bible study based on the Good Morning Girls groups.  Every work week there is a new 5-day Bible study that follows the acronym SOAP:  Scripture, Observations, Applications, Prayer.

I like it because it's a quick way to build the disciplines of grace into your life (The Word, prayer, meditation, application).  It doesn't take extraordinary Bible study tools. It doesn't require a leader to tell you the "right" answers. All you need are your Bible, the illuminating power of God's Holy Spirit, your brain, and a pencil (or in my case, Microsoft OneNote, where I've been journaling all this).

Clicking the title of this post takes you to this week's SOAP journal.  You can download and print it for yourself if you like.
/End of preface, begin today's study:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Scripture: Matthew 4:19
And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Immediately after that, Peter and Andrew left their livelihoods and followed Jesus.  Right after that, Jesus called John and James, and the same thing: they left their nets and their father and followed the messiah.  Jesus CALLED and they responded. All believers have received a call from Jesus to follow Him.

In my past experience, here is where the guilt card is played, with that phrase "FISHERS OF MEN."  You're not reeling in enough fish, some church leader may say to you. He that winneth souls is wise!   Or perhaps, Your bait isn't good enough; try this hook instead!  I think this misses some of the point.  Jesus called us first to FOLLOW him.  He will transform us into good fishermen.  If you're hanging out with the master fisher, he'll teach you how to catch the fish.

I realize that a fish is not going to just jump out of the water and flop into my boat.  At the same time, I've seen a lot of hard-sell "soulwinning" in my day.   If you employ the right technique, you too can persuade/browbeat/frighten someone into professing Christ as savior.  But how much of that is a real disciple-making experience, and how much is just a beleaguered person succumbing to pressure to join a club/please the browbeater?  Straight-up, I confess, I AM reacting against that bible-thumping approach from the preacher with the loud voice and dippity-do in his hair.  I've seen people arm-wrestled into churchianity (differentiating from true faith in Christ), and these  people then perpetuate the means by which they themselves were brought into the doors.  As far as their receiving a true, life-transforming experience, however, the results are less convincing.

Here's what I take away from this verse: The master CALLS people--as you yourself were called--and those will in turn follow Christ and become fishers of men.  We follow the master, and he enables us to lead others to faith in him.  I don't want to get caught up in the numbers game: (How many fish did you catch today?); I do want to follow him and let him turn me into a fisherman like himself.

Lord, help me to follow you  first. And help me to fish.  But help me never to lose sight of you by focusing only on a bunch of smelly fish. :) Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

To Live is Christ

From Sovereign Grace's new album Risen, this song was a great blessing to me this morning.   As an interesting twist, I was listening to it while working out at Bally's gym, and was really struggling to maintain my composure.  The Other Sweaty People in the gym probably thought I was working out really hard and had pulled something. :)

Before You gave us life and breath
You numbered all our days
You set Your gracious love on us
And chose us to be saved
This fleeting life is passing by
With all its joys and pain
But we believe to live is Christ
And death is gain

To live is Christ, to die is gain
In every age this truth remains
We will not fear, we're unashamed
To live is Christ, to die is gain

And though we grieve for those we love
Who fall asleep in Christ
We know they'll see the Savior's face
And gaze into His eyes
So now we grieve, yet we don't grieve
As those who have no hope
For just as Jesus rose again
He'll raise His own

And now we're longing for the day
We'll see the Lamb once slain
Who saved a countless multitude
To glorify His name
We're yearning for the wedding feast
Of Jesus and His bride
His nail-scarred hands will finally
Bring us to His side

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Held and Holding Firmly

"Listen: If you’ve got a Christian faith whereby you’re hanging on by your fingernails to God – just making it—then I don’t know that you have understood saving faith.  If you are hanging on to God as a result of how well you’ve done this past week, or how many times you’ve read your Bible, or how many times you’ve witnessed, or how many times you didn’t think the bad thought (or whatever else it is), and when something comes across your mind, saying, “I wonder if I’m a Christian?”  you find yourself saying,  “oh yes,  I am, because of this and this and this and this and this… I’m holding on,” then you don’t understand. The only reason any of us are holding on is because He picked us up in His almighty embrace and gathered us to Himself. Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life (gift!), and they will never perish, neither will any man pluck them out of My hand.”  

This morning the ground of our assured conviction concerning the nature of the Good News in our own lives, is on the fact that we have found our tiny hand nestled  under the warm and large and powerful eternal embrace of God our Father.  And when sin comes into our lives, as it inevitably does, it spoils our fellowship, but it does not negate our relationship."

~Pastor Alistair Begg, Parkside Church, Cleveland, OH

How many of my formative years were grounded in Performance-based Christianity and the fear of man?  Far too many.  It's grievous that even though I went to a "good, sound church and Christian school"  that I missed so much of God's grace and the gospel.  It's baggage that I still carry today, and I constantly need to keep the Cross before me.  Alistair's message was a glorious reminder that I do not contribute anything to my salvation, other than sin.  It's all of God's grace that I am saved and kept.

That is all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"life", mommyhood, popcorn...

Gentle reader, please advise:
How does one blog about Life, specifically Mommyhood, when one's children have reached An Age of Self-Awareness that mom occasionally--nay, mainly-- Blogs About Them? To avoid causing or giving offense, I find myself mentally editing my childrearing mileposts to the point that they just never leave my fingertips and make it into record.

D and S continually surprise me in this regard. Occurrences that I consider matter-of-fact or just plain funny are moments of grave consequence or great humiliation to them. Having a 13 and 12-year-old makes the emotional mood swings par for the course, so I find myself stinting on posts to provide them safety and give them confidence in my discretion.

In the final analysis, though... scraps of my leftover Life Happenings are not interesting. My life, though packed to the gills, is pretty routine. I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning (cold cereal, slightly green banana, cup of coffee with sugar free vanilla Coffeemate). I struggle with the same character flaws I always have (fear of man rather than fear of God, indolence, pride). Life cruises along and birthdays are no longer important now that I'm a Certain Age.

It's my children who change every time I blink. I find myself wishing to hold on to certain moments just as they are Right Now. My little girl is now taller than me. My son is stronger than me, and keeps me challenged to stay one step ahead of him in wits and cunning. Then again, he's done that since he was four.

I look back now at the lost playworld of Kittyland, and their imaginary friends Wilbur and Nadine, who have moved away. I didn't recognize at the time they were playing those games for the last time. So the event passed away without incident, without recognition, and they moved on to the next play phase in their lives.

Only now, I have to be so painstakingly careful in my remembrances. I make this sacrifice willingly--after all, I would hope for the same consideration from a loved one!

I believe I can safely say that, since my hurried Thursday dinner of homemade burritos didn't quite fill the spaces, D is now out in the kitchen supplementing my lack of preparation with grilled cheese sandwiches. I was hoping for New York Steak with crab meat and artichoke hearts, but this will have to do. S is annoying him somehow, since there are Thumpings and Bumpings and high-pitched noises coming from the general vicinity of the kitchen. I am remaining in my red leather chair by the fire on this cold evening. A is watching Columbo.

That's about it from here.